If you love tech and the business of tech, then 2013 should be a very interesting year.
We’ll find out whether Marissa Mayer can keep the momentum going at Yahoo and whether the Web dinosaurs Myspace and Digg can successfully reinvent themselves.
Will this be the year everyone starts using Square? Will Leap Motion’s motion sensor change the way we interact with computers?
Who will fall flat on their faces, and who will dazzle us with their innovation?
Here are 10 tech companies that have especially piqued our interest as the new year begins, and no -- Apple, Google and Facebook are not included. You already know to follow them.
Tumblr, a social network popular among young users and creative types, is poised for a big 2013. The company recently became one of the top 10 websites in the U.S., and 26-year-old founder David Karp recently graced the cover of Forbes for the magazine’s 30 Under 30 edition. Tumblr may have brought in only $13 million in revenue last year, but it’s set a lofty goal for this year: $100 million.
2. Leap Motion
Last year, Leap Motion captured the tech community’s eyes with YouTube videos of its impressive motion sensor control. The control isn’t out yet, but Leap has recently announced that it has secured $30 million in funding and a partnership with Asus to begin putting out computers with the motion sensor technology included.
It’ll be interesting to see how Instagram changes after being bought for $715 million by Facebook last year. For now, Instagram says there are no plans to bring ads to its app, but eventually Facebook will want to justify the acquisition. The first signs of that came in December, when Instagram introduced new terms of service that would have let it use users’ photos in ads for the app, but it canceled that plan after receiving major backlash.
In the first half of 2012, Yahoo seemed unsalvageable. Then Marissa Mayer came on board as CEO in July. She gave the employees free food, had a baby and launched a redesign of the company’s email services and its photo-sharing service Flickr. The company’s earnings fluctuated throughout the year, but they were up in the third quarter and are expected to have been up again in the fourth (numbers come out in January). Can Mayer keep the momentum going?
The location-based social network began to show signs of slowing in 2012 and reportedly has had a tough time raising money recently. But Foursquare has some loyal users and valuable location data -- so much so that after an Apple executive began using the app in December, rumors began swirling that Apple was interested in buying the company to improve its mapping software. Regardless of whether it’s purchased, Foursquare seems set to start making a push for more revenue. It recently announced new terms of service requiring all users to use their first and last names and give business owners access to more data. For Foursquare, it’s time to sink or swim.
In October 2011, Twitter had 100 million monthly active users. By December 2012 it had 200 million. And 70% of those tweeting actively live outside the United States. Max Wolff, a senior analyst at Greencrest Capital, told Bloomberg that if Twitter goes public in 2014, it could be valued at as much as $11 billion. But, he said, that's a number the company has to grow into. Can Twitter do it?
Last year Square, which enables users to accept credit card payments via their iPads, iPhones and Android phones, made headlines when it announced a partnership with Starbucks and a $25-million investment from the coffee chain. In the first week of 2013, Starbucks announced it will start selling Square mobile card readers in 7,000 stores for $10. Square’s ubiquity seems inevitable, but only time will tell.
This photo- and link-sharing site has quickly become a darling of the social media world with over 23 million users who “pin” images and URLs onto their digital scrapbooks. In May, the Palo Alto start-up received a $100-million infusion of fresh funding from an investment group led by Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc., which valued the company at about $1.5 billion. Analysts have speculated that Pinterest, which has struggled to monetize its popularity, may eventually go public or be bought out by another tech company eager to capitalize on the enormous appetite for visual images on the Web.
Of the hundreds of start-ups to take root in L.A.’s Silicon Beach tech scene, Viddy might be its first breakout hit. Known as the Twitter or Instagram for videos, Viddy has amassed more than 40 million users since its launch less than two years ago, and last month it launched Viddy for Android. Users shoot short video snippets on their mobile devices and upload them for their followers to watch. Viddys have to be 15 seconds or shorter. Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Britney Spears are among the celebs who have prominent Viddy accounts, and businesses are using Viddy to promote their brands.
10 (and, OK, 11). Myspace and Digg
These former stars of the Internet are trying to make a comeback. They debuted their redesigned sites in last year, and although the reaction in the blogosphere was positive, it takes more than good design to create the loyal community of users that made these sites winners in the first place. In 2013 we’re looking to see whether Myspace’s strategy of catering to the artists will work.